You hear this so often, at this point it’s such a cliché. But the saying that you are what you eat is very much true, especially when it comes to skincare. No one understands — and preaches — it better than board certified gastroenterologist and TULA co-founder Roshini Raj, M.D. “I am a big believer in approaching beauty from the inside out,” Raj says. “A happy and healthy body is going to radiate beauty. Gut health has a very strong impact on skin health.”
As a child of two doctors, she knew she wanted a career in medicine at a very young age. While the science behind gastroenterology was interesting enough to keep her studying in that field, she ultimately wanted to do something that would directly help people. “I became fascinated by the microbiome and how this universe inside our bodies affects our entire body,” she says. “I was inspired to research the topical benefits of probiotics after noticing how much better my patients looked, after their health improved with a course of probiotic treatment.”
To understand her holistic approach to beauty, we sat down with her to talk about her skincare routine, daily habitual habits, and skincare advice she’s loved (and hated). Scroll down to see what she had to say.
Spotlyte: How would you describe your skin?
Dr. Roshini Raj: My skin is combination. I have an oily T-zone and tend to be dryer everywhere else. It also changes with the seasons or even my time of the month. My skin is very prone to scarring as well, so I only use products suitable for sensitive skin.
Spotlyte: Give us a breakdown on your daytime skincare routine. What are your go-to products?
RR: My morning routine is all about being efficient, so I use the TULA Purifying Cleanser ($28) to remove dirt and pore-clogging debris from my skin followed up with the TULA Pro-Glycolic PH Resurfacing Gel ($34) and the Aqua Infusion Oil-Free Gel Cream ($58) for hydration. It’s also a perfect base for makeup.
Spotlyte: What about your nighttime routine? What are the products you always use?
RR: If I have makeup on from filming, I begin my evening skincare routine with the TULA Kefir Replenishing Cleansing Oil ($35), which gently removes my makeup and gives me a blank canvas to start my skincare regimen. I follow this with the TULA Purifying Cleanser ($28), which removes dirt and pore-clogging debris from my skin without stripping it of its natural oils. After my face is clean and patted dry, I like to massage my face with a jade roller to increase circulation and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. I typically follow with the TULA Volume Defense Deep Wrinkle Serum ($98) and TULA Overnight Skin Rescue Treatment ($85) on my face, as well as the TULA Revitalizing Eye Cream ($52) around my eye area to seal in moisture. After moisturizing, I mist my face with rose water and pat the excess into my skin to add an extra layer of hydration.
I try to do a face mask at least twice a week (the TULA Kefir Ultimate Recovery Mask is my favorite) and treat myself to a hot bath every so often. Self-care is an extremely important yet overlooked part of living a healthy lifestyle.
Spotlyte: How do prebiotics and probiotics work in skincare?
RR: Topically applying both prebiotics and probiotics helps to keep skin strong and balanced. Prebiotics support the healthy bacteria on skin while the probiotics that we formulate with help to improve skin barrier function and increase cell turnover. It is important to make sure that the healthy bacteria on skin are thriving in order to keep bad bacteria that may cause inflammation, acne, and other skin grievances in check.
Spotlyte: What's the best skincare tip you've ever gotten? Why is the skincare tip you always follow?
RR: I am a big believer in approaching beauty from the inside out. A happy and healthy body is going to radiate beauty and gut health has a very strong impact on skin health. In addition to taking a good daily probiotic supplement, I also love drinking fermented coconut kefir and eating other fermented foods. These are an excellent source of probiotics, such as kimchi and sauerkraut.
Spotlyte: It seems like you believe in beauty being a holistic process. Are there any physical habits or food regimens you do daily that contribute to your beauty routine?
RR: I like to start my mornings with a half-hour of stretching and meditation to set the tone for the day. Beauty comes from the inside out, so nourishing my body with a good breakfast is key. Granola, yogurt and, berries is my typical breakfast. Throughout the day I always try to get the majority of my calories from nutrient-dense, whole foods like vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, fermented foods, and lean protein sources. I take supplements as well, including fish oil and the TULA Daily Probiotic and Skin Health Complex ($78).
Spotlyte: It's an interesting time in beauty; brands are finally catering to different skin tones. I'm Filipino and very tan myself, so I always felt that I had to take care of my skin differently from how my paler friends took care of theirs. Have you ever felt that way? Was there any skin care tips you were taught that were specific to brown skin?
RR: Scarring is a common concern for those with darker skin. I find that because my skin is dark I tend to scar very easily, so I avoid harsh ingredients and irritating products. When there is more naturally occurring melanin in the skin, it's more likely that any damage will result in visible scarring. I always try to avoid any harsh products that can irritate and cause inflammation. Prevention is always better that a cure so avoiding damage in the first place is key.
Spotlyte: What's the worst skincare tip you've ever heard?
RR: That bacteria is bad! For so long we have been conditioned to over wash our skin with harsh cleansers and alcohol filled toners, stripping our faces of too much oil and disrupting the balance of good and bad bacteria.
Spotlyte: Are there any medical aesthetic treatments you are a fan of/get regularly?
RR: Not really. Because my skin is sensitive, I stick to my routine. I’m open to doing them myself if and when the time feels right for me.
Spotlyte: We want to be able to get to a place where we can openly talk about medical aesthetic treatments without any stigma attached to it. Society is more open minded now, but what can we do so that women don't feel ashamed in getting procedures like cosmetic injectables?
RR: I think women should feel empowered to do whatever they want to do to feel their most confident. The more transparency there is about the safety and efficacy of aesthetic treatments the more easily women will be able to make informed decisions. Perhaps it is because I live in NYC, but the women I meet don’t feel shame about getting these treatments.
[Editor’s Note: Please sure to discuss with your physician if medical aesthetic treatments are right for you.]
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